Assertions by the new Biden-Harris administration about their intention to negotiate with the mullahs and re-join the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) do not seem to be having a positive effect on Tehran's leadership.
And at the same time, the Biden team's outreach to the Iranian regime is stirring grave concerns in Israel.
Even before the inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, officials expected to be named to the Biden administration were holding secret talks with Iran about a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, according to Israeli media reporting.
Without adding any details, Israel Channel 12 reported on Jan. 16, 2021 that Israel had been updated on those conversations.
The deadly Wuhan Coronavirus, dubbed "2019-nCoV" by the World Health Organization (WHO), is spreading farther and faster than the SARS virus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) did at a similar point in its outbreak, although this corona virus' lethality rate is still lower than for SARS at around 4% so far. The pathogens are the same — both are corona viruses — but something has changed with the Wuhan variant that has allowed the rate of transmission to increase significantly over SARS.
Despite the rapid spread of cases both within China and globally over the last weeks, however, the WHO so far has not declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Days into the Biden-Harris administration, the outlines of its makeup and expected policies are coming into view. Many appointees are retreads from the Obama years: William Burns will head up the CIA, Jake Sullivan will be the new National Security Advisor, Anthony Blinken is the new Secretary of State, and his deputy is Wendy Sherman.
Unfortunately for those of us who care about Mideast security and stability, this line-up does not bode well for either.
Add Robert Malley to the mix as the Biden's possible special envoy to Iran and affairs in the region soon could be troubled indeed.
As other crises take center stage for the Trump administration's national security team, the dangerous ambitions of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey have been spreading instability across the Mideast and North Africa (MENA).
For years Erdogan made no secret of his intention to restore the Ottoman Empire and become the sultan who will re-establish the Islamic Caliphate.
In Turkey, this goal has meant reinstating the dominant role of orthodox Sunni Islam in government as well as society.
Abroad, it meant launching Turkish troops and jihadist proxies to add to the chaos in places like the Iraqi, Libyan, and Syrian battlefields.
In the midst of the U.S. election turmoil, it may be understandable that an important statement from the head of the U.S. Southern Command has gone relatively unnoticed.
On Dec. 2, 2020, Admiral Craig Faller told The Wall Street Journal that additional military personnel and weapons are arriving in Venezuela from Iran.
Adm. Faller said that Iran is sending Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force troops as well as unspecified weapons shipments to the Marxist regime of Nicolas Maduro.
The Quds Force is a division of the IRGC, itself designated a U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization in April 2019.